3Com co-founder Metcalfe's take on HP-3Com buyout

Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe co-founded 3Com in 1979, and now that company is about to be acquired 30 years later by HP.

I caught up with Metcalfe, now a general partner with Polaris Ventures, briefly via BlackBerry to get his thoughts.

On HP buying 3Com:

3Com grew in the shadow of HP, always asking what would Bill [Hewlett] and Dave [Packard] do. The joke was that 3Com was the best of Xerox technology and HP marketing. Best wishes to 3Com and HP.

On 3Com’s legacy as an independent company:

After leaving Xerox PARC, I founded 3Com on June 4, 1979. We were a dot-com before the dots, and I am what in Silicon Valley they call "old money."

3Com's goal was computer communication compatibility -- 3Com -- and our first three chosen standards, then controversial, were Ethernet, TCP/IP, and Unix. 3Com shipped the first commercial version of TCP/IP for Unix in 1980 and the first PC Ethernet in 1982. We went three for three.

I was just in Marlborough to celebrate 3Com's recent 30th anniversary. Exhilarating.

On whether he still has a stake in 3Com:

I retired from 3Com in 1990 and sold all my shares soon thereafter to create a blind trust for my 1990s career in high-tech punditry. Today I own a few shares for old times’ sake, so I won't be seeing much of the $2.7B.

This story, "3Com co-founder Metcalfe's take on HP-3Com buyout" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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